The Statsies: The Kuzmenkshow plays in the face of the ref circus

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
6 months ago
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It’s hard to play against a 7-person team.
The Vancouver Canucks turned in a resilient effort in the second part of their back-to-back, dropping a 4-3 decision in overtime against the New York Rangers. Considering everything that went on in this game, it was an impressive result against a very solid group, especially on tired legs. Though Vancouver wasn’t going to be able to outscore their problems against New York, they managed to defend well as a group, reducing chances in front of Casey DeSmith whenever they weren’t killing off penalties. It almost worked, too.
Here’s the loss, by the numbers.
As always, you can find our glossary guide of advanced stats here.

Game Flow

Quite literally, the Rangers were living off of their power play. The Canucks were producing the better advanced stats at 5v5 play, controlling a 58.06 CF%, 62.50 HDCF%, and 61.99 xGF% when at even strength. The issues came with the fact that the Rangers got a lot of powerplay time with two separate 5-on-3s, leading to quite the amount of pressure generated at some very inopportune times. Credit to Vancouver for trying to ride out their penalty kills, though something has to be said about making use of the six powerplays that they got themselves.

Heat Map

It’s yet another pleasing heat map to see, and especially from the Canucks in their second consecutive game. Across all situations, Vancouver managed to generate a slight hot patch in the slot area which was more than can be said for New York. Keeping the Rangers’ chances limited in high-danger areas was definitely a sound recipe for success, and it’s interesting that they weren’t able to do much more with their 5v3 powerplay chances. In total, the scoring chances stood at 31-25 in Vancouver’s favour, with a narrow 12-10 advantage in high-danger chances.

Individual Advanced Stats

Corsi Champ: The PDG-Miller-Boeser line continues to hum along through to the end of October, with Brock Boeser being the one to lead the Canucks in CF% last night with a 79.49 across all situations. Impressively, Boeser was on ice for an 11-5 shot differential, helping create a 14-4 scoring chance advantage for the Canucks, of which five chances were recorded as high-danger. The winger racked up the 4th best xGF (1.36) while having the third-best xGF% (81.51). At 5v5 though, it was his linemates that just edged him out, with JT Miller and Phil Di Giuseppe tying atop the charts with a 81.25 CF%.
Corsi Chump: All things considered, the team-worst Corsi put in by Sam Lafferty isn’t a bad thing. The bottom-sixer came in with a 36.36 CF%, but was able to hold a near-even xGF% (45.46), showing that his defensive impact was still noticeable even if he was conceding a lot of puck possession. That makes sense too, since Lafferty spent the majority of his night stacked against the likes of Vincent Trochek, Filip Chytil, and Alexis Lafreniere. Sure, you could knock him for not chipping in with more offence through the first month of the season, but Lafferty had a solid game while holding his opposition to 0 goals against.


xGF: Andrei Kuzmenko looks like he’s finding a groove again after a relatively slower start to the year. The Russian winger put up an absurd 91.17 xGF% share to lead the Canucks last night, recording the second-best xGF (2.00) and xGA (0.19). Kuzmenko was on ice for the second-most scoring chances by a Canucks (16) while also being on ice for an 8-0 HDCF differential in favour of the Canucks. If you’re wondering who was in first place for some of these numbers, it would be none other than his linemate Elias Pettersson, who racked up a team-leading 2.08 xGF, 18 SCF, and joined Kuzmenko in a 8-0 HDCF advantage.
GSAx: It probably raised some eyebrows that Thatcher Demko got the start against the Blues, meaning that Casey DeSmith would be facing the New York Rangers. But all things considered, DeBackup did his job darn well against tough opposition. The Rangers generated about 3.05 xGF, meaning that DeSmith did find himself in the negatives with a -0.95 GSAx – but that isn’t too bad at all, considering that the Canucks generally did a good job in front of him at limiting high-danger chances. DeSmith was solid when he needed to be, and there really wasn’t a howler of a goal that he gave up. Out of the four goals against, two were recorded as high-danger and one apiece at middle and low danger. Considering that 3/4 of those goals came on the power play, and one on 3v3 OT after a missed call, it’s understandable for DeSmith and not a poor reflection on him at all.

Statistical Musings

Where the Canucks genuinely stuck with a contender when tired: It was always going to be an uphill battle on the second half of a back-to-back, but the results from last night were far better than anyone could’ve anticipated. Vancouver produced better metrics at 5v5 play than New York, and that’s not an easy feat to manage. They played sustainable and sound hockey, generally snuffing out the Rangers at even strength and grinding their offence to a halt. The Lafreniere-Chytil-Panarin line actually saw a 46.15 CF% and 35.25 xGF% share at 5v5 last night, which is very surprising considering how good they’ve been as of late. Now, granted the Kreider-Zibanejad-Kakko and Cuylle-Trocheck-Wheeler lines were a lot better than them against the Canucks last night – but even then, they didn’t get a single goal at 5v5 play. That sort of defensive effort will help this team win games even when the offence isn’t going their way.
Mark Friedman riding the pine: A glaring spot when looking at the TOI distribution last night was the fact that Mark Friedman didn’t get much time at all. Quite literally, at 5v5, the top 5 Canucks in ice time were all defencemen – and then there’s Friedman in second-last with an 8:13. Overall, Friedman finished last in ice time, probably due to the fact that the special teams occupied the entire game. It wasn’t as if he was particularly bad either – Friedman was posting a 66.67 CF% and 74.83 xGF% before getting benched halfway through the third. It’s more interesting, if anything to see what happens next with him.

As a team

CF% – 57.02% HDCF% – 54.55% xGF% – 51.36%
The result last night made sense – Vancouver and New York were nearly dead-even in expected goals and it took overtime for these teams to be separated. And even then, it was because of a blatant missed call that the Rangers were able to go the other way and score. Who would’ve thought that these Canucks would be able to stick it in a game against a contending team, at times outplaying them at even strength and battling hard in a back-to-back game. It’s refreshing to see consistent, hard-fought efforts by this hockey team, and despite the loss the Canucks have definitely deserved the one point they secured.
Next up, the Canucks will welcome the Nashville Predators to town on Halloween.
Stats provided by naturalstattrick.com

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